History Made in D.C. as Giani Does 1st Sikh Ardas in U.S. Senate

On the floor of the Senate, Toomey explained that Guru Nanak was born in Pakistan into a Hindi household in 1469.

When Millbourne resident Giani Sukhvinder Singh tilted his head and prayed in the Senate Chamber Wednesday, he was making history.

As the contingent of Sikhs descended on the nation's capital to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the birth of their founder, Guru Nanak, U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., invited Singh and other Sikhs from Delaware County to the morning prayer and an evening reception. In doing so, Singh became the first Sikh to deliver invocation in the Senate's history.

"There had never been a Sikh delivering the opening prayer," Toomey said. "I think it was kind of overdue for the Sikhs."

On the floor of the Senate, Toomey explained that Guru Nanak was born in Pakistan into a Hindi household in 1469.

"Guru Nanak showed a keen interest in religion from very early on in his life," the senator said as he explained that he married, had children and followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming an accountant. After a profound personal transformation, Guru Nanak began teaching the Sikh faith around 1500.

"Guru Nanak's most famous teachings include that there is only one God, that people ... need not go through an intermediary such as a priest to access the one God and that all people were created equal," Toomey, a Catholic, said. "He preached that his followers should meditate and follow God, that they should earn an honest living and share with those who are less fortunate than themselves."

He also said that the Sikh faith is the sixth largest religion in the world with 30 million adherents around the globe, 700,000 in the United States and between 10,000 and 30,000 in Pennsylvania...

...The Upper Darby resident spoke about what he felt as he stood in the Senate Chamber Wednesday morning.

"We feel so proud, we feel welcomed," he said. "We are a part of the fabric of Pennsylvania, the United States and Delaware County. Every Sikh wants to do much more for the country we adopted, this country we will live and die for."

Singh said Sikhs are known as great fighters and they will work to defend and protect the United States.

In his prayer Wednesday, Giani Sukhvinder Singh of the Philadelphia Sikh Society Gurdwara touched on the commonalities shared by all faithful as he asked for guidance for the senators and all Americans.

"By the grace of the true Guru, Almighty God, we call you by many names but you are one," he said. "Keep your divine hand over the members of the Senate as they help steer the future of our great nation. (Put) love in our hearts and sound judgement in our minds. Remind us of our purpose to love and serve one another and create a more peaceful world."

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